Friday, April 8, 2011

317: The Brain and Rage 2

"Why must running into an obstacle to achieve our goal be accompanied by an emotion we don't like at all: rage? Why did it survive evolution? I'll answer this question in the next lecture." were the last words of my previous lecture.

From an evolutionary point of view this is a useless question. Rage IS unpleasant, like water IS wet. It is an intrinsic feature of it. If it were a pleasant emotion, you might be beaten up and enjoy the rage it evokes in you.

In fact, the unpleasantness of rage is part of the power of the emotion to overcome an obstacle. When some one is blocking your way, it could be seen as an hostile act, even a kind of aggression.

Here you see the positive power of rage. It is communicated by voice, gestures and facial expressions. The effect may be that this kind of threatening behavior makes the opponent retreats.

Thus rage even prevents escalation and further aggression. This is a very common behavior in the animal kingdom. You growl, show your teeth and your opponent might reconsider his intentions.

And it can work both ways. The opponent can show an even stronger rage behavior, which forces the other party to re-evaluate his goals. So, in general threatening often surpreses the aggression on both sides.

From an evolutionary point of view this is not so surprising: aggression easily leads to damage, to wounds. It is a not done. When animals yet start a fight, it often is without inflicting serious physical damage.

Rage is not only a psychological burst of energy, but also a physical phenomenon. The blood is redirected to the muscles. The activity of the intestines is slowed down. You feel stronger, like you feel weaker when in grief or depressed.

In the course of evolution of the Homo Sapiens (that's us :-) this emotion of rage has become more and more adapted to our cognitive ability. In the beginning rage was a way to overcome physical and social obstacles.

From our growing consciousness there emerged an "I" - awareness, a sense of self-esteem: a Self. We won't go into detail here with respect to these concepts. That is for later, because these are philosophically mind boggling issues.

We'll focus on self-esteem, for this was very important for the individual. It defines his place in the group. The brain became steadily better to evaluate itself and the body, in which it resides. The result of the evaluation was important for the social behavior of the individual (as it still is of course).

When this Self is attacked the first response may be shame ("ouch, is that me indeed?") but then it turns into rage ("I don't have to accept that! So, apologize for what you just said or….!")

Rage is an interesting mechanism to remove obstacles for the normal functioning of our Self in the social group. And we also know the extremes: the person with such a big self-esteem, that even the slightest word of criticism will infuriate him.

We are still talking here about the emotion of one individual, but because these basic emotions are shared by every one in the group, they also work on a social level.

The integrity of the group is most important for survival. So, you easily can imagine what will happen when some one from inside or outside the group tries to disrupt this integrity. A collective rage can be the consequence, which mobilizes all energy in the group to eliminate the threat.

Today we are member of all kinds of groups: a family, a sports club, soccer fan club, a town or a country. Just think of soccer fans of club A and the rage they can get into by seeing fans of the opponent's club.

Culture determines on who, when and how we can focus our rage. Typically, culture rejects physical violence - leads to damage - in any case and rather prefers to negotiate, increase verbal abuse or the threatening than physical action.

As I discuss rage here from an evolutionary point of view it is considered as a mechanism that does a good thing, but of course we all know that it also can be a dangerous emotion, which can lead to full-scale escalation of violence and aggression. This happens in all cases, where negotiations didn't work.

One of the enemies of emotions is time, certainly for rage, because it gives the slower part of our brain, the cortex, the time to make a rational analysis of the emotion and subdue the evolutionary older parts of the brain, which are responsible for the instant rage.

The ratio can come up with two suggestions: the first one is to understand that rage is a secondary emotion, beneath it is the real emotion you have to deal with, which is most of the time some kind of frustration or feeling attacked for some reason.

The second one is to change places with the target of your rage. Suppose you are waiting for a parking place….. the other car pulls out and drives off. Then out of the blue another car takes "your" place!

You get out of your car and are furious and you'll gonna tell that other person. However, he hadn't seen you waiting for the place, so, feels completely innocent. Imagine that you were in his position?

What is the meaning of your rage here?


The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you... ^_^
[13:24] herman Bergson: The floor is yours :-)
[13:24] herman Bergson: if you have any question or remark.....
[13:24] Mick Nerido: Not being noticed could be the reason
[13:25] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): well it seems the main emotion underlaying here is I would feel cheated out of my spot...
[13:25] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): therefor, I would be upset...
[13:25] herman Bergson: yo mean the parking example...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:25] Kyra Neutron: so...be better at parking next time...
[13:25] herman Bergson: just an example...
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they have identified a gene called the "warrior " gene
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it seems to cover a lot of this rage
[13:26] herman Bergson: The issue here is rage as a basic emotion and its role in evolution
[13:26] Mick Nerido: we have personal space issues here
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: one thing i can get mad at is stuff that struggles in general when u definitely dont want it to
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): 30 % of men have it
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): less women
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but some
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma!
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): saw a shwo about it the other day
[13:26] herman Bergson: Not surprised!
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): you can do a test
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): for it
[13:27] herman Bergson: cool...
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:27] herman Bergson: do I have the gen?
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but as they ended saying gene or no gene you still have to take personal responsibility to account for your actions
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and work on it
[13:27] herman Bergson smiles
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma ...we cant escape ethics
[13:28] herman Bergson: we have a knowledge of good and bad....!
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but at least those who have it can find out if they have the gene
[13:28] herman Bergson: gene or no gene
[13:29] ShinKenDo: its disconection of reality i might say
[13:29] herman Bergson: lik ethe y also found a gene that makes you more susceptible for religious beliefs
[13:29] herman Bergson: What do yo mean Shin?
[13:30] Mick Nerido: The God gene?
[13:30] herman Bergson smiles
[13:30] ShinKenDo: its the ego that disconects uto the reality ... it may has nothing to doo with gene..
[13:30] herman Bergson: dont know it wa shis contribution Mick..:-)
[13:31] ShinKenDo: if we would acknowledge that we are just sit in a car and wait for a parking spot we would not feel rage
[13:31] herman Bergson: winks at Qwark
[13:31] Mick Nerido: It's like cutting in line. It's not fair
[13:32] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) nods
[13:32] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): and that makes a person feel cheated and angry, as if an injustice has been done
[13:32] herman Bergson: You are still upset about the parking issue?? :-)
[13:33] herman Bergson: What this is all about is the basic feeling of rage and how it developed in evolution
[13:33] herman Bergson: and tho it is an unpleasant emotion we still have it..
[13:33] ShinKenDo: rage might be a needed emotion in times where the live was more violent
[13:33] herman Bergson: and it works...gives us energy to eliminate obstacles...
[13:34] Zinzi Serevi: for some ppl its a pleasant emotion i think
[13:34] Zinzi Serevi: they just go for it again and again
[13:34] herman Bergson: yes Zinzi...even that can happen...
[13:34] : Doodus Moose raises hand
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: yes as these fan themes in football games burning the entire city down after the game
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ruining the sport completely
[13:34] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): I believe the rush is what people enjoy, not the rage per say
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: big problems all over the world even in sweden
[13:35] Mick Nerido: Sports can be acceptable form of rage
[13:35] herman Bergson: Indeed Melody..but that emotion gives the drive and energy to create havoc and overcome the obstacle.
[13:35] Zinzi Serevi: but what of the rage against emergency services
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: not if the entire city burns afterwards as i've seen in some countries
[13:36] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: houses burns cars burn people lay wounded everywhere
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: for a football game?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: thats insane!
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Zinzi ..interesting issue...
[13:36] Kyra Neutron: yawns..prefers rage against the machine..
[13:36] herman Bergson: We really have a problem here....
[13:36] Zinzi Serevi: lol
[13:36] Zinzi Serevi: me too
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ├┐es that better
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: speaking of that i had before today
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: I have machines that struggle when i try do something
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: first the bending machine lost its program and then the earplugs to my MP3 player broke
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: i just AARRRRRRRRGGGH
[13:37] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): that causes rage in me...my machines not doing what they should....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: thursdays = struggle days for me :(:(
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: at least sl works
[13:38] Kyra Neutron: so kill in the name of the god..warrior...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: not even the bowling pinsetter wanted to work when i played later today
[13:38] herman Bergson: ok ok..I got it.....
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: and LHCV is down
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: LHC
[13:38] herman Bergson: we all seem to know that rage is a real basic emotion then
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Would we be better off now without it?
[13:39] herman Bergson: it comes from way back into history...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: hmm i'm at least tired of getting mad for this week
[13:39] herman Bergson: No Mick..that is the point!
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: luckily my rl best friend come over this weekend
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: and cheers me up
[13:39] Zinzi Serevi: lol bejita
[13:40] herman Bergson: Evolution has kept this emotion alive to overcome obstacles
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i feel rage when i am helpless to do anything about an issue
[13:40] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): I believe we need rage as a sometimes catalyst for change
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): so that does not help at all
[13:41] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:41] herman Bergson: yes we do Melody
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Gemma ..then we have our cortex...
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: hmm but when it struggles for me i just loose control and start slamming stuff and then that day is ruined
[13:41] Zinzi Serevi: anger can make you come to some action if you want some changed
[13:41] Zinzi Serevi: but rage?
[13:42] herman Bergson: it contains the machinery that tells you that what is beyond your powers cant be helped by you
[13:42] herman Bergson: the machinery
[13:42] herman Bergson: anger is the feeling associated with rage Zinzi...
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: its less
[13:43] herman Bergson: In Dutch we have other words for it
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: ok
[13:43] ShinKenDo: so what use has rage... what do smart peoples think could be made with rage?
[13:43] Mick Nerido: Which language has the most words for rage?
[13:44] herman Bergson: That was the whole issue here Shin...rage gives energy to overcome obstacles
[13:44] Zinzi Serevi: maybe it makes you aware of what you don't want
[13:44] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) nods
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: its as me im normally rational but when i get mad i can loose control, no fun at all
[13:45] herman Bergson: no Bejiita..rage never is fun...
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: can someone
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: pls
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: but it take a bit to get me to that but struggling stiff i have short temper with, at least when i just want it to work
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: explain
[13:45] ShinKenDo: and obstacle that cant be overcomme genereates rage then.. but cant stell be over comme... you cant pull out the other care put your care in with rage
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: what is rage
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: or this i want to be a good day and then something get in my way and ruins that
[13:45] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): rage is a mental state that is one extreme of the intensity spectrum of anger.
[13:45] herman Bergson: OK HOLD ON EVERY ONE !!!!!!
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: then i can get really mad cause i ve planned for it to be like this and this
[13:45] herman Bergson: PLZ...
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: madness..rage..anger...
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: and it doesnt
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: dont see anything positivie input here
[13:46] herman Bergson: Kyra's question is quintessentail
[13:46] herman Bergson: and we have to be very clear about the answer…
[[13:46] ShinKenDo: rage might only be a emotional overflow that would put the blame on some one else ... so you can live with it more esaly or in rage you hurt yourselfe for being a foo.... but the obsticle is not overtaken still
[13:46] herman Bergson: What is rage...?
[13:46] herman Bergson: Quiet plz
[13:47] herman Bergson: Rage is an emotion...!
[13:47] Kyra Neutron: and what is madness?
[13:47] herman Bergson: And in previous lectures I have defined the concept of emotion we are using here
[13:48] herman Bergson: an emotion is like an orchestra conductor...
[13:48] Kyra Neutron: nods
[13:48] herman Bergson: it is a behavioral complex that sets a number of processes into action
[13:48] herman Bergson: like fear....
[13:48] herman Bergson: or grief do too
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: maddness is not rage, it is loosing rational thought and behave totally crazy against everything, id say Ghadaffi and Kim yong show maddness
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: killing their own people
[13:49] herman Bergson: I wasnt talking about madness..drop it
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: getting mad however is rage
[13:49] Kyra Neutron: mad _ madness_furious anger...
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: same word for many things
[13:49] Kyra Neutron: i dont think so
[13:50] herman Bergson: What you have to understand is that what I call a basic emotion is a brain process that activates a whole plethora of actions
[13:50] Zinzi Serevi: i think when you are in danger and can't fly then is rage usefull
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: yes thats correct
[13:50] Kyra Neutron: oks..
[13:51] herman Bergson: like rage reallocates the blood to muscles, creates andrenaline in the bloodstream....boosts the feeling of power and so on
[13:52] Kyra Neutron: looses again..against survival cells..
[13:52] herman Bergson: and th ebasic idea is...was this contributing to our evolution....?
[13:52] Zinzi Serevi: survive and defend
[13:52] herman Bergson: And the answer is yes... in general...
[13:53] ShinKenDo: so you say rage is here to help overcome obstacles but... the person has still his car parked at MY place... even if i got in rage it change nothing... in rage i would attack the poor driver because i blame him or i would hit my self for being so slow..... but the car is still not parked... so .... rage might be a emotion that leads to another emotion... acceptance? calm?
[13:53] herman Bergson: although we also know lots of examples where rage was utterly destructive
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: and if u ram the car with your own your own car also would be wrecked
[13:54] herman Bergson: You missed the point in the example Shin....
[13:54] ShinKenDo: i might yes
[13:54] Kyra Neutron: yes..i tpd him late...
[13:54] Zinzi Serevi: every emotion can be good and destructive
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: not happiness or?
[13:55] Zinzi Serevi: yes happiness as well
[13:55] herman Bergson: the point was that the victim of your rage wasn't aware of the cause...your waiting for the spot..he didnt notice you
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): have to go soon
[13:55] Qwark Allen: yes me to
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: thats how i WANT to feel all time
[13:55] herman Bergson: soyour rage is completely irrational...
[13:55] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): so your rage is unfounded?
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): herman
[13:55] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) nods
[13:55] herman Bergson: and your cortex should correct that :-)
[13:55] Qwark Allen: very interesting subject, as fear
[13:55] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:55] Qwark Allen: ty
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): wil try to make it tuesday but is not a good day for now
[13:55] ShinKenDo: then rage is here to let others know what you are angry about to find a solution together?
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: this is very interesting for sure indeed
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: and complex
[13:56] herman Bergson smiles
[13:56] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:56] Kyra Neutron: so nite nite to all..
[13:56] herman Bergson: dont get angry...but I guess time to dismiss class ^_^
[13:56] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) laughs
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: ok night Kyra
[13:56] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): goodnight Kyra
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: hmm party time soon i guess
[13:56] herman Bergson: Thank youall for your participation...
[13:56] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): :)
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: Thank you Herman
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: and also was nice to vent a bit of my issues today
[13:57] Zinzi Serevi: thanks Herman
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: damn thursday demons, always after me
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: well well
[13:57] Snow (snowbody.cortes): thanks herman
[13:57] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): Wonderful class Professor
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: tomorow its friday
[13:57] herman Bergson: poor you , Bejjiita..
[13:57] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) smiles
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: and weekend
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: and lot of fun things for me
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:57] herman Bergson: Thank you Melody
[13:57] Zinzi Serevi: your anger already flows away Bejiita
[13:58] herman Bergson: ok..Go for it Bejiita!
[13:58] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman..it was very interesting..as always:)
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: feel better now yes
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: no more struggle now
[13:58] herman Bergson: cool!
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: tired of that
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: want things to work
[13:58] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) grins at Bejiita
[13:58] Zinzi Serevi: its just like therapy this class..:P
[13:58] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita..a waste of energy
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: yes and ruins my days when it gets like that
[13:59] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) is going to check to see if she has that "warrior" gene
[13:59] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) laughs
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: hee
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:59] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): lol Melody
[13:59] Snow (snowbody.cortes): hihihi
[13:59] herman Bergson: oh cool Melody..
[13:59] herman Bergson: where is the test?
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: ok time to scare the neighbors rl with Qwark
[13:59] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): I am not sure but when I find it I will send you a link
[13:59] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) grins
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: this was nice and very interesting
[14:00] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): hopefully I dont get enraged if I can not find it
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: bye folks cu
[14:00] Zinzi Serevi: bye Ciska
[14:00] Zinzi Serevi: bye everyone
[14:00] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): Bye Ciska
[14:00] herman Bergson: no ..you could smash your computer Melody..watch out !!!!
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: now its time to get my neiighbors mad instead
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: loool
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: lycky well insulated walls here
[14:01] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) laughs
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: dont know if they like Psy trance at high volume
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: as I doo
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[14:01] herman Bergson: oh my Bejiita!!!!!!
[14:01] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne): indeed, we wouldn't want me to smash my computer, I would then miss Tuesdays class
[14:01] Melody Jayne (ladyjayne) smiles
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: hugs
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[14:01] herman Bergson smiles
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